On Sunday, I made the family stop and wait while I bought an air plant at a delightful store called GRDN in Brooklyn. The little epiphytic plant, which was heavily blogged about recently, can live in partial light with no soil and just a regular misting, making it a perfect candidate to enliven the north-facing third-floor guest bathroom.
Once inside GRDN, however, I was swept away by their delicious decor, sort of "Tuscan villa meets English manor-house mudroom," and all lush and consistent enough to make Martha Stewart's art director weep. Where on earth does one find blush-lavender roses and white lilacs at the cusp of March? And how could one ever live up to them unless draped over an antique chaise-longue swathed in pearl-colored peau de soie, sipping an apricot-colored glass of dessert wine?
Stores like this (or magazine layouts depicting similar hyperstyled scenes) hypnotize me into thinking that, by buying an objet or two, or an armload of flowers, I could transform our space into...well, into theirs. It's magical thinking, of course; in reality, one gets one's purchase home and perches it against one's real life, and there it is. (The air plant, however, seems content enough alongside my Aunt Louie's collection of tiny bronze pagan goddesses.) For the chronically cash-strapped CrazyStable, achieving a consistent aesthetic, a "look," has always seemed like a distant dream; 20 years into this enterprise, we're still hoping to get all the holes in the walls plastered over.
Which is why I was inspired last Saturday night at the theater. By the play, definitely--the "Scottish play" (I won't jinx my beloved Patrick Stewart, who was thrilling as the "Thane of Cawdor, King hereafter"). But also by the interior physical space of the old Majestic Theater, a 1904 ruin that was semi-renovated by the Brooklyn Academy of Music as a slightly avant-garde performance space. (It was also renamed the Harvey Lichtenstein Theater, alas.) The notion behind the Majestic was to freeze its decrepitude while adding in functional modern amenities; architect Hugh Hardy must have agreed with Katisha of The Mikado that "there's a fascination frantic/in a ruin that's romantic; do you think you are sufficiently decayed?" The critics agreed, praising the "intimate, otherworldly feel" evoked by its crumbling columns and water-stained, peeling paint; Lichtenstein himself, the BAM head who oversaw the renovation, declared, "What I love about the Majestic Theater is how alive it feels when you walk in; how your interest is awakened as you scan the walls, the pillars, the ceiling, the boxes. There is a palpable energy and vibration."
Yeah. That's what first-time visitors to our house are thinking: not, "When the hell are they ever going to finish this place?" but rather, "Wow! I'm digging the palpable energy and vibration of those crumbling walls!" As I said to the generous dear friend who treated me to the Scottish play (the production was quirky but thrilling, by the way), "You know, we liked this look so much, we did the entire house in it!"
BAM image: Durston Saylor